PLoS ONE, 12(10):e0186794, Public Library of Science, 10, 2017. Paper Website doi abstract bibtex
Coral reef ecosystems of many sub-tropical and tropical marine coastal environments have suffered significant degradation from anthropogenic sources. Research to inform management strategies that mitigate stressors and promote a healthy ecosystem has focused on the ecology and physiology of coral reefs and associated organisms. Few studies focus on the surrounding pelagic communities, which are equally important to ecosystem function. Zooplankton, often dominated by small crustaceans such as copepods, is an important food source for invertebrates and fishes, especially larval fishes. The reef-associated zooplankton includes a sub-neustonic copepod family that could serve as an indicator species for the community. Here, we describe the generation of a de novo transcriptome for one such copepod, Labidocera madurae, a pontellid from an intensively-studied coral reef ecosystem, Kāne‘ohe Bay, Oahu, Hawai‘i. The transcriptome was assembled using high-throughput sequence data obtained from whole organisms. It comprised 211,002 unique transcripts, including 72,391 with coding regions. It was assessed for quality and completeness using multiple workflows. Bench-marking-universal-single-copy-orthologs (BUSCO) analysis identified transcripts for 88% of expected eukaryotic core proteins. Targeted gene-discovery analyses included searches for transcripts coding full-length “giant” proteins (>4,000 amino acids), proteins and splice variants of voltage-gated sodium channels, and proteins involved in the circadian signaling pathway. Four different reference transcriptomes were generated and compared for the detection of differential gene expression between copepodites and adult females; 6,229 genes were consistently identified as differentially expressed between the two regardless of reference. Automated bioinformatics analyses and targeted manual gene curation suggest that the de novo assembled L. madurae transcriptome is of high quality and completeness. This transcriptome provides a new resource for assessing the global physiological status of a planktonic species inhabiting a coral reef ecosystem that is subjected to multiple anthropogenic stressors. The workflows provide a template for generating and assessing transcriptomes in other non-model species.